'The Expendables 2': Roadrunner and Coyote would fit right in

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceAugust 16, 2012 

The Expendables adds Yu Nan, left, to a cast that includes, from right, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone and Terry Crews.

FRANK MASI | LIONSGATE/MILLENNIUM

  • MOVIE REVIEW

    'The Expendables 2'

    2 stars out of 5

    R for strong bloody violence throughout. Lionsgate/Millennium. 102 min. Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Movie Tavern, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, Woodhill. Drive-ins: Harrodsburg, Paris, Winchester.

Of course, The Expendables 2 is all good fun and games, and recycled catchphrases. Until somebody gets hurt. A lot of somebodies.

When you're filling the screen with every big-screen action star of the past 25 years — except for Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes and Steven Seagal — and every one of them needs his own body count, you see the problem. You run smack up against the Maximum Mayhem Threshold.

The Expendables 2 is a sillier wallow in excess, a too-cute trip down '80s Action-Film Lane with one past-his-expiration-date action hero too many for its own good.

It's a Road Runner cartoon for the bloody-minded, a wise-cracking cavalcade of carnage that hurls bullet-proof heroes at the huddled masses of villains, defies the laws of physics and treats us to so much bloodshed it's only natural that some of it should spatter on the lens.

Irresponsible as a first-person shooter video game? You bet. But it holds together, more or less, right up to the moment Chuck Norris and his dyed beard make their preposterous appearance. It's a moment that lowers the bar on stupid for the rest of the picture.

Sly Stallone and his team bring their soldier-for-hire thing to Nepal, Albania and environs this time around. There's a debt to be paid — to the spy boss played by Bruce Willis, one more assignment for "your little gang of psychotic mutts."

There's a friendly rivalry with this big Austrian dude who says "I'll be back." Again.

And there's a Belgian-accented heavy (Jean Claude Van Damme), all sunglasses and big knives and a high kick waiting to happen. His name? Jean Vilain. That's with one "L," mon frère.

"Respect is everything," he purrs. "Without respect, we're just people." He pauses, dramatically. (Or as dramatically as JCVD can manage.) "But respect must be taught."

These Expendable mercenaries — Stallone, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, the redeemed Dolph Lundgren, the absent Jet Li (better things to do, so he checks out early) — avenge their own. When somebody in their ranks dies, Barney (Stallone) has three things to say about the bad guy who did this: "Track 'em. Find 'em. Kill 'em."

Liam Hemsworth is a sniper, "The Kid," who joins the crew. Maggie (Yu Nan) is the Chinese "weapons-proficient" expert brought along for the ride.

The Road Runner analogy really works here, as director Simon West (Con Air) doesn't bother explaining how this or that character shows up, how boats and planes magically appear, and how a plane crash into a mountain is supposed to be survivable. Bugs, Daffy, Elmer and the Coyote just get up, dust off and hop back into action.

Norris' entrance is no sillier than anything else in it, but his arrival, an hour in, signals the moment when screenwriters, director, cast and crew just threw up their hands, laughed and said, "What the hey?"'

Which is fitting, because that's the arc that the careers of these guys — to a one — took. Serious action pictures, followed by performances that turned into caricatures, ending with movies that were one big muscle-bound joke.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service